Cell Disruption is a process of releasing biological content from a cell or a process of obtaining intracellular fluid via methods that opens up cell wall. An overall goal in cell disruption is to obtain intracellular fluid without disrupting any of its components.
It is of two types: Mechanical and Non-mechanical.
Non mechanical methods can be classified into physical methods and chemical methods. Physical methods includes use of osmotic shock, decompression, thermolysis etc. while chemical methods involves use of detergents, solvents and enzymes.
Chemical methods rely on utilization of chemical substances or enzymes in disruption process. The mechanisms of cell breakage involves destroying the cell wall by enzymes, or by interfering or precipitating cell wall proteins.
Use of digestive enzymes to achieve cell lysis is enzymatic method of cell disruption. Cell lysis or disruption can be carried out by digestive enzymes which will decompose the microbial cell wall. Different cell types and strains have different kind of cell walls and membranes thus, the enzyme to be used also depends on cell type and strain.
E.g. Lysozyme (which hydrolyzes β-1-4-glucosidic bonds in the peptidoglycan) is commonly used enzyme to digest cell wall of gram positive bacteria. The cell wall of gram negative bacteria differs from cell wall of gram positive bacteria so lysozyme is not so effective in case of gram negative cell wall. Lysozyme along with detergent such as SLH, Triton X, etc. are used for the lysis of gram negative bacteria. EDTA can also be added along with lysozyme for gram negative bacteria.
Cell wall of yeast and fungi differs significantly from that of bacteria. Enzymes commonly used for degradation of cell wall of yeast and fungi include different cellulases, pectinases, xylanases and chitinases.
E.g. Yeast cells are disrupted using enzyme like zymolyase or lyticase having β 1,3 glucase activity together with proteolytic activity. Osmotic shock can also be used . Zymolyase has β-1,3 glucanase and β-1,3-glucan laminaripentao-hydrolase activities. Chitinase is commonly used to disrupt filamentous fungal cells.
High price and limited availability of enzymes limits their utilization in large scale processes. In addition, the added enzyme may complicate downstream processing. However, these drawbacks could be minimized by immobilization of enzymes.